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In the Classroom > Unit Overview > Lesson 4

Lesson 4
Bloody Brook
September 18, 1675

Bloody Brook is perhaps the best known local event of King Philip's War (1675-1676). Early in the war, Indian attacks forced colonial governments to abandon many outlying towns. Deerfield, Massachusetts, was one of these settlements, but Massachusetts Bay authorities were loath to abandon the town's excellent harvest. The government sent a group of teamsters with ox carts to carry the settlement's harvest to Hadley. The government planned to distribute the grain among Connecticut River Valley towns during the upcoming winter. Soldiers commanded by Captain Thomas Lathrop would escort the teamsters as they moved through the dangerous, Indian-controlled territory between Hadley and Deerfield. The slow convoy began the trek from Deerfield to Hadley on September 18, 1675. Captain Lathrop stopped the front of the convoy near a small stream known as Muddy Brook to allow the cumbersome and heavily laden ox carts in the rear of the column to catch up. Some of the soldiers, perhaps feeling that the most hazardous part of the journey was over, began to relax. Some had even placed their guns in the carts and were picking bunches of wild grapes growing next to the narrow road. At that moment, when the convoy was least prepared to defend itself, a force of several hundred Indians launched an ambush. In minutes, the attackers virtually wiped out the convoy and its escort. Only a handful of men escaped. By the time reinforcements under Captain Moseley arrived the victors were already stripping the dead and plundering the wagons. Hopelessly outnumbered, Moseley and his men were quickly engaged in a desperate fight for their own lives. Luckily for them, another group of militia commanded by Major Robert Treat appeared and drove off the attackers. Colonial losses were appallingly high. Grief-stricken colonists buried over sixty bodies in a mass grave. The muddy brook at the site of the ambush was renamed Bloody Brook and September 18, 1675 was called "the Saddest that ever befel New-England." A white marble monument erected in 1838 marks the spot in present day South Deerfield where the young men mourned as "the very Flower of the County of Essex" met their fate along with seventeen Deerfield men.

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